Punishment or positive reinforcement?

Since Sir and I have been exploring a Ds facet of our marriage, I’ve been trying to research other Ds marriages online for guidance. But that seems like a total waste of time, because the only people doing this kind of thing publicly are very religious.

“You submit to your husband, but it’s all good, because he submits to God. And because your husband is accountable to the All Mighty, he’s going to magically always know what to do and never be abusive or make really stupid decisions that completely ruin your family and your life. Because God.”

So that wasn’t going over very well.

All I could find from the secular side was more of a “Domestic Discipline” model. i.e. “You broke the rules. Punishment.” One guy kept a list, on the fridge, on which his wife had to record her transgressions for later punishment, in this case spankings.

From a masochistic Ds point, obviously some “punishments” are really just an excuse for a sexy spanking. However I’m not a masochist, I just enjoy sensations of all kinds when I’m appropriately stimulated and aroused. Sometimes that includes pain, but play-punishment spankings have no appeal to me.

Now, I’m not a psychologist. But I’m pretty sure everything I’ve ever read about training, from dogs to horses to children and by extension all humans, has come to the conclusion that positive reinforcement is far more effective at bringing about behavioural changes than punishing mistakes. It also improves the relationship between the trainer and the trainee, as opposed to introducing constant underlying fear into a loving relationship. I mean, there’s a great place for fear in a good play session, absolutely. But not something I’m interested in having as a theme of my day-to-day relationship.

In just the few days that we’ve been experimenting, I’ve already discovered that I respond much better to positive reinforcement. When Husband says “Good Girl” it makes me feel proud, and I’m eager to find more ways to please him. But when I accidentally left the generator running and he said “That’s three,” I totally disengaged. I wasn’t scared. “Three what? Meh never mind, don’t care. You’re not the boss of me.” is pretty much how I felt about that.

Maybe that comes from the fact that I was never punished as a kid. Like, ever. Even when I got caught shoplifting on my 16th birthday and the cops took me home, my mom was just like “That was so embarrassing. Please don’t do it again.” Or when I went drinking with a bunch of strangers from the Village and totally drank myself into a blackout? My mom didn’t even make me go to school with the hangover… I mean, I didn’t even have to face actual life consequences growing up, let alone contrived consequences in the form of punishments.

When I accidentally left the generator running, I felt bad about wasting fuel and polluting the planet needlessly. Is it possible that a good spanking would have prevented me from doing it the second time? Maybe. Maybe not. But I don’t want to always leave the RV with a wash of fear, wondering if I left the generator running lest I be beaten later. That’s just too reminiscent of abuse, so neither of us has felt especially compelled to go there.

Do punishments “work?” Well, it depends what you’re trying to accomplish. If you merely want to change behaviour and you’re not interested in the personal growth and development of the individual, then I’m sure punishment-based training is effective. But… gross. I’m more interested in developing the positives within myself, and I assume that by limitations of time and energy, the negatives will naturally fall away. And things that are truly negative will have actual consequences that will make their avoidance natural. And if they don’t, it’s because I’m not ready to give them up, and you can’t beat “ready” into someone.

I guess there’s another area where punishments are completely effective and appropriate. That’s in slave training for your own sake of having a well-trained servant, not for the slave’s sake of personal growth. If you care more having rules that are followed by your hoard so that your can have a comfortable, pampered lifestyle, then punishment-based behaviour could be very effective. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

His first command

It started with a single command

He was texting her. I didn’t mind, I thought it was hot that my husband had a submissive. I was surprised by that, but was learning to roll with it.

I was in the kitchen. He had just sent her a message. He noticed me standing beside the fridge. “Get me a beer while you’re up.” It wasn’t rude or bossy, but it was a command, pure and simple. He didn’t even realise he’d made it. My eyebrows went up and I giggled, and in that same instant my hand had already moved to the fridge door to obey him. He asked why I was giggling and I told him why. He denied that it was a command, tried to back out of it “What? You were right by the fridge.” “Yes, I know, but that’s not the point. It was a command. You were texting her and you instructed me with the same tone you use with her. It was hot.”

And that was it. So simple. Just six little words, said unconsciously and yet with so much authority that it didn’t even occur to me not to obey. And with that, something inside me fully woke up. I realised then how much simple and pure satisfaction I get from serving him. He’s always been the protector and the provider. He’s played his role to the letter in those departments. But he was raised by a weak woman who only new how to meet her needs by manipulating and controlling others, so he’s always been hesitant to tell others what to do. He doesn’t want to be the bully. He’s also independent and doesn’t like asking people to do things he’s perfectly capable of.

But she woke it up in him. She started teaching him that it’s okay to ask for things. That other people enjoy helping. And as he started to ask, I was more than happy to obey. And as I obeyed, he’s started asking more. And so step by step, this beautiful flower is starting to blossom.